document [English]

Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ 1. Archives, IP2 · An indivisible unit of information constituted by a message affixed to a medium (recorded) in a stable syntactic manner. A document has fixed form and stable content. – 2. PaaST (Document) · A persistent and indivisible unit of information that has a fixed form and stable content.

General Notes

'Document' traditionally implied text on paper. Contemporary use includes any type of information fixed on a two-dimensional medium, such as photographs, musical scores, or maps. However, 'document ' does not extend to all types of information; for example, it is seldom used to describe moving images or sound recordings.
Some archivists and records managers make a clear distinction between records and documents, while others do not. 'Record' is narrow category, and might include the official (record) copy, a copy filed for public notice, or the final, complete version. 'Document' is a separate category that might include copies, drafts, and items not part of business activities. In the United States' legal system, all documents are discoverable, but only those records that fall within the hearsay exception ('business records') may be admitted as evidence at trial.

Other Definitions

  • Black's 9th 2009 (†382 s.v. "document"): 1. Something tangible on which words, symbols, or marks are recorded. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a). – 2. (pl.) The deeds, agreements, title papers, letters, receipts, and other written instruments to prove a fact.
    ancient document. Evidence · A document that is presumed to be authentic because its physical condition strongly suggests authenticity, it has existed for 20 or more years, and it has been maintains in proper custody (as by coming from a place where it reasonably expected to be found). Fed. R. Evid. 901(b)(8).
  • IP2 Dictionary (†242 s.v. document): n., An indivisible unit of information constituted by a message affixed to a medium (recorded) in a stable syntactic manner. A document has fixed form and stable content. [Archives] n., Recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit. [Archives] n., Recorded information regardless of medium or characteristics. [Archives] n., A combination of a medium and the information recorded on or in it, which may be used as evidence or for consultation. [Archives] n., A single archival, record or manuscript item. Usually physically indivisible. [Archives] n., Information that has been fixed in written form. [Archives] n., Refers especially to recorded information regardless of medium or characteristics, whether created specifically as records of information or used as such at some time subsequent to their creation. In its broadest sense, however, can include any item amenable to cataloging and indexing, that is, not only written and printed materials in paper or microform versions but also nonprint media and, in some circumstances, three-dimensional objects or realia. [Arts] n., A single record or item. Examples include: a sheet of paper with writing; an E-Mail message; a film with images; a magnetic tape with a sound recording. [Arts] n., A single component or entity in a set of archival materials, usually a physically indivisible object. [Computer and Information Sciences] n., Any specific type of file produced or edited by a specific application; usually capable of being printed. E.g. "Word document", "Photoshop document", etc. [Computer and Information Sciences] n., A generic term for a physical entity consisting of any substance on which is recorded all or a portion of one or more works for the purpose of conveying or preserving knowledge. [Computer and Information Sciences] n., A piece of text considered to be a single item and usually stored as a file. The document might be a letter, a report, a chapter, etc. It will usually have a unique name, and may have other attributes attached to it, such as a brief description of what it contains and who composed it. [Computer and Information Sciences] n., Something that records or transmits information, typically in writing on paper. For the purposes of providing evidence to a court, documents include books, maps, plans, drawings, photographs, graphs, discs, tapes, soundtracks, and films. [Government] n., A unit of data or information, especially written or textual, that has been compiled and formatted for a specific purpose that includes content and structure, and may include context. [General Dictionaries]
  • IP2 Glossary (†386 s.v. document): n., An indivisible unit of information constituted by a message affixed to a medium (recorded) in a stable syntactic manner. A document has fixed form and stable content. [Archives - Diplomatics: New Uses for an Old Science , Page: 41 ]
  • SAA Glossary 2005 (†241 ): n. ~ 1. Any written or printed work; a writing. – 2. Information or data fixed in some media. – 3. Information or data fixed in some media, but which is not part of the official record; a nonrecord. – 4. A written or printed work of a legal or official nature that may be used as evidence or proof; a record.1 ¶ Notes: Document1 is traditionally considered to mean text fixed on paper. However, document2 includes all media and formats. Photographs, drawings, sound recordings, and videos, as well as word processing files, spreadsheets, web pages, and database reports, are now generally considered to be documents. ¶ Like records, documents are traditionally understood to have content, context, and structure. However, the nature of those attributes may change in electronic documents. Electronic formats can present information in complex layers that are three-dimensional or have a nonlinear structure. The phrase 'four-corners document' is sometimes used to distinguish an electronic document that can be printed on paper without loss of information from more complex, three dimensional documents. Similarly, some electronic document content is not fixed, but may change over time; for example, a word processing document that pulls data from a constantly changing database. These documents are described as dynamic documents to distinguish them from traditional, fixed documents ¶ In some contexts, document3 refers to an item that is not a record,2, 3 such as drafts, duplicates of record copies, and materials not directly relating to business activities. In this sense, documents are not usually included on retention schedules and can be disposed of without authorization. ¶ However, in other contexts, document4 is used synonymously with record.2, 3 In this sense, 'record' connotes an official document, especially the final version of one created in the routine course of business with the specific purpose of keeping information for later use as evidence or proof of the thing to which it refers.
  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. document): A written, drawn, presented or recorded representation of thoughts. the past it was usually used as a term for a written proof used as evidence. In the computer age, a document is usually used to describe a primarily textual file, along with its structure and design, such as fonts, colors and additional images. The formal term 'document' is defined in Library and information science and in documentation science, as a basic theoretical construct. It is everything which may be preserved or represented in order to serve as evidence for some purpose.